E4 Evolution — Hybrid, Holographic and Hopeful

E4 EvolutionWhat is E4 Evolution?

Welcome to E4 Evolution, the AV industry’s first true hybrid event! E4 Evolution is the hybrid form of AlmoPro A/V’s E4 Experience in Dallas. Truly hybrid, the event offered tour guides, hosts and curated content intended and optimized for the virtual viewer. The fun part? Virtual attendees were able to ask questions live and be a part of the show without physically being there!

Celebrating 75 years in business, Almo Pro A/V presented its E4 Experience in partnership with THE rAVe Agency’s LAVNCH VTS platform. E4 Experience is a way to explore concepts, engage with peers, get educated on trends and see an expo for AV and IT products. This year, Almo brought 40 leading audiovisual manufacturers together for the show. Let’s look at what happened!

The Future of Workspaces – Keynote

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The Future of Workspaces keynoteIn his 12th annual opening keynote at the E4 Experience, Gary Kayye of THE rAVe Agency was joined by Paramount Pictures’ global creative operations executive Scott A. McPhail for “The Future of Workspaces Is All About Experiences.” Scott tuned in — holographically from Los Angeles. That’s right! Thanks to Epson‘s laser technology and ARHT Media, Scott was able to join Gary on the stage in digital form. The technology, known as HoloPresence, is an easy-to-use and portable solution that can be used anywhere. The pair discussed how COVID-19 aided in the digital transformation of the AV industry, generational differences in the needs of AV users, true meeting equity in workplaces and much more.

Digital Transformation, True Meeting Equity and the “Wow” Factor

From crypto coins to streaming services, some companies took off during the pandemic. Some got lucky (Disney+ was launched one month before the pandemic), and others had to pivot and adapt to the changes that were necessary to succeed. Gary Kayye’s keynote focused on ways the pandemic drove the digital transformation of the AV industry and also discussed ways we need to continue adjusting to keep the industry growing — meaning we need to pay attention to generational differences, fight for true meeting equity and provide the “wow” factor for growing teams.

The new generation forms connections completely differently than when Gary joined the AV industry. They no longer prefer (or need) face-to-face interaction to build relationships and get work done. College students had less struggle adapting to online work because they had been using tech for virtual connection their whole lives. Students became “backpack workers” where they could work from literally anywhere. And, Gary said, they don’t mind the small screens and hybrid requirements of working this way. In fact, they prefer spaces that feel like home.

“We’re going to have to relook at the balances between work and life, personal and professional,” Gary said. “For us to get that group of students, young people and millennials, we’ll have to make offices more like home.”

As we change the way we design future hybrid spaces, Gary said we have to work towards a truly equitable meeting space. As an industry, we need to work on the size proportions and angles that our meeting tech can use and see and learn to focus on the entire room (both virtually and in person) to provide accommodation. “Hy-Flex Teaching” is being placed in UNC system schools, making classrooms prioritize video and sound. A more connected hybrid meeting space is needed for all users.

Lastly, Gary mentioned the “wow” factor, an idea that focuses on providing home-like office spaces for younger people in the industry that are also creative, interesting and … playful! This means offices need to kill the cubicles — they’re dead. “Cubicleland” will be about spaces where audio and video work well and work is fun. Companies that provide playspaces in their offices — such as rock-climbing walls, game or VR rooms, spaces to relax or coffee bars — will hire more young people.

Behind The Scenes: How It All Worked

ARHT Media provided the HoloPresence technology shown during the keynote session, and Gary Kayye gave a behind-the-scenes look at how the tech works. You can watch the behind-the-scenes video of the holographic HoloPresence technology on LAVNCH.com or through the E4 Evolution site.

Session 1 The Power Of Place

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The Power Of Place 1

As we return to the workplace, we will have to rethink the way we engage with the space around us and how we interact with each other. Through research from HOK, Kay Sargent and Rachel Rouse gave an overview of gaps in the workforce and AV industry where we can make changes.

Kay started the session with a call to action: We need to take our workplaces to the next level, and we need to do so boldly. COVID-19 made us ask a lot of questions, but the main one was, “What is the future of work?” HOK found that companies are continuously reallocating their spaces with technology. This means hybrid work; some employees remote and some in the office. And we need to be able to get these two groups to collaborate.

The proper solution to rethinking the space around us comes from a combination of physical and technological solutions. Key findings for updating hybrid workplaces and spaces included the following:

  • Updating our old offices
  • Creating new work ecosystems
  • Empowering people in this new world
  • Shifting from fixed to fluid spaces
  • Rethinking the purpose of the places we’re in
  • Accessing new ownership
  • Leveraging technology more efficiently
  • Moving beyond sustainability and rethinking the way we deliver space through our designs

“The power of place is what inspires you to come to the office,” Kay said.

Session 2 Elephants in the Room: Integrators’ Biggest Challenges & Opportunities

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In today’s climate, there is no direct way to run an integration company. The value that integrators bring their customers has never been higher than now. From supply chain issues to the pandemic’s challenges and “WFH” models, there are many elephants in the room — issues and problems we need to face and discuss. NSCA executive director Tom LeBlanc led this chat with Texadia Systems executive vice president Dawna Payne, Almo Pro A/V SVP of channel sales John Riley and Sharp Business USA director of channel sales Scott Adeylotte.

Some of the topics discussed during this session included how hybrid work can become more sustainable. The group said looking for ENERGY STAR-certified products and other sustainable sources can help the industry refocus on sustainability.

Another discussion focused on how customers’ needs have evolved since the beginning of the pandemic. The pandemic presented new challenges, and the AV industry responded by hosting many platforms for hybrid work. This trend will only continue, and customer needs will evolve to make hybrid work easier and faster. The pandemic also drove a need for touchless and/or COVID-19 resistant products — something the AV industry has responded to since the beginning.

Session 3— Post-Pandemic AV Business Strategies

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Post Pandemic AV Business Strategies

“We don’t need to be post-pandemic to have a post-pandemic strategy,” Tom Stimson said at the beginning of his session. What are these strategies, and when do you start planning them? According to Stimson, we should have started 22 months ago.

AV companies like to outsource, but we shouldn’t be thinking about outsourcing during a time like this. Stimson says we can focus too much on revenue in our industry when we should focus on scalability. So how do we structure this? Something important to remember is that business models are always vulnerable, but there are a few things to set ourselves up with success. How so? Focus on the things that could be in the way.

What would have happened before the pandemic if we had asked ourselves, “What would happen to my business if I could not work for 90 days?” When you’re set up for the possibility of failure and prepared for the worst scenarios, we focus less on revenue and more on being scalable. This is what protects us from significant problems (and a loss of finances).

To summarize, strategy always matters. And, when experiencing success, we should prepare for failure. Strategic management of possible problems is much easier to handle than fixing a problem. “Strategy is engineering what you want to happen based on what you think will happen,” said Stimson.

Tech Talk Interviews of the Day

Tech Talk 1: Barco

  • Want a way to manage all the ClickShare you use today in one space? Barco gave a demo of its XMS Cloud solution during E4 Evolution, a product that claims to offer a solution that can do just that!

Tech Talk 2: Absen

  • Absen introduced the Cobalt line of products during E4 Evolution! The Clear Cobalt Series is a series of new microLEDs featuring a chip-on-board design. The LEDs offer deeper blacks and a higher contrast ratio for updated viewing quality.

Tech Talk 3: LG Business Solutions

  • LG talked about its All-In-One LED. The 136-inch bezel-less display offers wide viewing angles and a 100,000-hour half-life with a 1.5 mm pixel pitch. It’s also portable and can be mounted on a wheeled mount.

Tech Talk 4: Yamaha

  • Yamaha Unified Communications discussed its presence in the UCC market over the past few years. One of the products at E4 was the ADECIA, a family of products that provides components for enhancing the audio conferencing experience.

Tech Talk 5: Panasonic

  • Panasonic gave a talk on a case study where the University of Michigan used Panasonic PTZ cameras, mics and other solutions. Panasonic’s solutions allowed for greater flexibility in some University of Michigan classrooms.

Tech Talk 6: Legrand | AV

  • David Albright from Legrand | AV spoke with Gary Kayye about productivity in the industry. How can AV help hybrid workers WFH and get their work done? David said setting up a productive home office will help hybrid employees feel connected to their workplace and coworkers.